Birds are great company, and they work hard to help keep the insect population in balance. The Northeast winters can be hard on the birds, so this year we built a basic bird feeder out of scrap lumber. It's nothing fancy, but the birds don't care what it looks like and the feeder has worked well so far.
As much as we like birds and want to help them through the frigid northeast winters we didn't want to spend a lot of money on the bird feeder, so while aesthetics mattered, cost mattered more. There were enough scrap pieces of lumber leftover from various projects to make a basic table feeder and the only real cost was $2.97 for the upcycled squirrel guard. The project only requires the most basic of carpentry skills, and kids can even help with things like nailing the trim around the outside of the feeder.
There are some basic guidelines for placing a bird feeder as far as deterring squirrels and making the birds feel welcome. Cornell has a nice website dedicated to ornithology and they suggested keeping the feeder at least 10' from trees or buildings to prevent squirrels from jumping onto the feeder and it seems to have worked. The bird feeder is set about 5' high which stops the squirrels jumping up from the ground while still allowing us to see the feeder platform. The squirrel guard is made from a plastic planter from Lowe's, and it has worked very well to stop the squirrels from climbing into the feeder.
The feeder platform was made of two scraps of 2x8 lumber, about 16" long. Two pieces of 1x3 scraps were screwed to the bottom of the 2x8s to tie them together. Four pieces of 1x3 scraps were screwed into the 2x8s around the outside to act as a perch and to keep the seed in the feeder.
The image below shows the framework of the bird feeder platform:
The feeder platform was attached to two vertical 2x4s about 5'6" tall that were screwed together, and the squirrel guard was slid onto the 2x4s before the feeder platform was attached. In the pics below, the opening for the 2x4s was marked and cut with a sheetrock knife and tin snips (aka aviation snips). Be fairly precise when making the cut because it needs to be snug when slid onto the double 2x4 post. The planter had a rim that the squirrels would have used as a paw-hold, so the rim was removed using the knife and snips
The double 2x4 post was attached to one of the raised beds that was at least 10' away from the fence or garage. I dug down about 6", attached one 2x4 to the corner of the raised bed then screwed the second 2x4 to the first, checking that it was fairly level. This gave me a finished height of about 5'. There are two pieces of scrap 2x4s about 10" long screwed to either side of the vertical 2x4s just below the squirrel guard height, and this is what holds the squirrel guard in place.
The image below shows the finished bird feeder attached to the raised bed:
Once the squirrel guard was slid into place the platform was attached to the double 2x4s with a few 3" screws. Now all I need are some birds.